I may have only known Laura for a little over a year but in that time we have become so close and she’s become such a huge part of my life. Living at opposite ends of the country does however make it a little difficult to see each other in person and whilst we try to meet in London as much as possible, this year we’d only managed to see each other once. Laura had however been asking me to go and stay with her for what must have been months and I was putting it off for all of the wrong reasons – I was letting the niggling voice at the back of my head get the better of me and worrying about how I would cope with a change in routine, food and exercise. But after she made the 5 hour journey up to stay with me before Christmas, I figured that it was only right that I did the same. Life is far to short to miss out on opportunities, and after how uneventful my summer had been so far, I decided that I did deserve a break after all and that it was about time that I challenged myself and I don’t regret a single second of it. Staying away from home was a daunting thought, but it was lovely to have some girlie company and Laura was the best hostess. My stay contained everything from bike rides to baking, cocktails, kombucha, surprises and vegan pizza. I think I’d underestimated just how beneficial this trip would be for my mental health and I enjoyed myself so much that I couldn’t not write a post sharing some of my favourite pictures, along with all the details.
Sunday: 26/08 ~ The Reunion
Typical of a British bank holiday weekend, the weather on Sunday was a complete and utter washout and my trip almost didn’t get off to the best of starts, as I frantically ran through the train station in a desperate attempt to make my train on time, sitting down with about 10 seconds to spare! Almost 6 hours later I arrived in Bournemouth and was reunited with Laura; she kindly met me at the station and we hopped in the car and headed on a mini driving tour around Dorset before going straight to hers for dinner. Laura being the amazing hostess that she is provided me with the warmest welcome; my bed had been set up in her room, complete with her light box which read ‘Yas Welcome’ and a bar of vegan chocolate had been laid out of my pillow too. I was finally introduced to Albi, who I was just as excited to see as I was Laura, and her parents, then it was time for dinner.
For our first meal, Laura served up the Strong Roots pumpkin and spinach burgers in sourdough pittas, with creamy extra virgin olive oil hummus, her mum’s homemade chutney – it’s safe to say that chutney is one of my few new obsession after this trip, herby sweet potato wedges and side salad. It was my first time trying the burgers and as far as veggie burgers go they’re pretty decent and their crispy quinoa coating sets them apart from a lot of other products, but I don’t think that I would be tempted to purchase them again. And for dessert, I was finally lucky enough to try one of the Freaks of Nature individual pudding pots; Laura tucked in to their choc caramel cheesecake whilst I had their double chocolate ganache which was made up thick layer of chocolate cashew cream layered above a creamy mousse like layer, topped with caramelised hazelnuts. The small pot was the ideal pudding size and packed with a creamy, decadent chocolate flavour that wasn’t too sweet or sickly. We then headed upstairs for a big catch up and girlie chat before getting an early night, as we knew that we had a busy couple of days ahead.
Monday: 27/08 ~ Bikerides, Baking and Bridesmaids
One of my main incentives to go down to Dorset was that I knew that Laura wouldn’t disappoint on the food front and I was specifically excited to try her waffles, so you can imagine how happy I was when I found out that they were first up for breakfast. The whole process took a lot longer than either of us had expected – it was probably a good two hours from start to finish but with a little patience we got there and they were so worth the wait. We used a waffle recipe from Deliciously Ella’s first book, but substituted some of the ingredients as we didn’t have them on hand and they turned out so well – crispy on the outside with a fluffy centre, and the most delicious subtle banana flavour with hints of vanilla.
We topped them with frozen cherries, fresh strawberries, nectarine, Oh so vegan raspberry chocolate and I went for Pip and Nut’s chocolate orange almond butter whilst Laura opted for peanut. They made the perfect fuel for a quick dog walk before we hopped on bikes and cycled to Wimborne.
I hadn’t been on a bike, other than a stationary one at spin – and that only started very recently, in what must have been about 10 years so admittedly I was a little nervous at first and I think some concerns were definitely raised when I ended up speeding off in the complete opposite direction at first because I couldn’t work out to steer! A few minutes in and I soon got the hang of it though and I actually ended up really myself. Most of the route was on cycle path with the prettiest scenery which definitely made it a whole lot easier and it felt like quite the achievement when I arrived in one piece and we locked up our bikes.
Our first stop was the vintage Brocante which was being held at Deans Court. We had a wander around the prettiest stalls, set in the gardens of the most beautiful Chateau like house. Whilst most of the stalls weren’t to our taste, we did come across Rescue and Revive – a company which specialises in upcycled jewellery and gifts. They were selling the most beautiful stamped cutlery, that I couldn’t resist purchasing. Me being as indecisive as ever, I couldn’t decide between the ‘love coffee’ and ‘stir crazy’ stamped spoons, so naturally the only option was to buy both. We also treated ourselves to matching ‘spread love’ knives which I know are going to come in very handy for stirring the nut butter jar!
More than impressed with our purchases, we wandered around the remainder of the stalls before taking a stroll through the pretty streets of Wimborne and heading to Le Petit Prince for lunch, as Laura was dead set that I had to try their bread. It’s there that I discovered an absolute love of chai lattes and it’s safe to say that we’re both now obsessed with all things chai! They may have been slightly disappointing size wise but it was all made up for in the flavour. We enjoyed them alongside the magic beans toasted sandwich which was made up of spiced beans (Laura did tell me before hand that it wasn’t going to be spicy but it left my mouth burning to say the least), spinach, red pepper, hummus and cucumber all served on toasted granary bread with dressed side salad and sesame slaw. It was such a cute lunch spot and they cater for everyone from meat eaters to veggies and vegans so it’s a great option if there’s a group of you. Their display of sweet treats looked amazing too, so that’s definitely one reason for me to make a return trip! We finished up lunch and had a wander around the rest of Wimborne, before cycling back and whipping up a batch of homemade granola. We pretty much freestyled the recipe and it may have taken about 3 hours to cook (her dad was also slow cooking a French rice pudding at the same time), but it turned out to be some of the best granola I’ve ever had and a mix of that I definitely need to recreate back home.
When it came to dinner, Laura let me in on her famous family secret four layered dip recipe, which I would love to share the details of with you but I know where my loyalties lie – all I will say though was that it was packed full of flavour and I enjoyed it so much that it’s definitely one that I’ll be recreating. Served with blue corn tortilla chips and followed by chocolate, granola, peanut butter and frozen cherry dessert bowls before we slathered ourselves in avo and oat face masks and settled down for a girlie pamper evening watching bridesmaids.
Tuesday: 28/08 ~ Ice cream, Cocktails and Kombucha
I honestly think that this might have been my favourite day of the whole trip. It was another early start, as I was up for a total body vinyasa yoga flow followed by homemade chai lattes made using Go Go Goa Chai and oat milk alongside smoothie bowls.
The base was a blend of frozen banana, cherries, cacao powder, oat milk and Macacha vanilla protein topped with frozen cherries (it’s safe to say that we are both obsessed with these now – so much so that I’ve already been to Tesco and stocked up on them for back home), our homemade fruit and nut granola, Pip and Nut peanut butter and dark chocolate melted with Biona’s salted caramel coconut bliss. We got ourselves ready, and drove over to Sandbanks, before hopping on an open top bus that went on the ferry across to Swanage. It was a windy journey to say the least – there were points when I couldn’t even open my eyes and it’s safe to say that it definitely lived up to its name of the ‘Breezer’ bus.
A little windswept, we finally made it to Swanage and had a wander round and browse in the shops, including Curiosity – a typically British sea-side store which her parents later told me Laura used to spend hours in as a child, before heading to Chococo – a handmade chocolate company which was founded in Dorset but has now expanded globally, for lunch. Whilst a lot of what their menu has to offer is chocolate based, they do have some savoury options too and they cater for everyone from gluten-free to vegan. Their lunch menu promises a vegan wrap which changes daily and for us it was filled with onion chutney, greens and falafel alongside root vegetable crisps and an iced mocha too. The chutney was definitely a highlight (I told you that it had become an obsession), and at just £3.75 it was so affordable. And it of course would have been completely wrong of me to not purchase some chocolate while I was there, so I went for their Dark Chocolate Superfood Clusters; a mix of cacao nibs, dates, roasted hazelnuts and coconut set in fine origin madagascan chocolate – I have a feeling that these are going to make the perfect nice cream or oat topping.
It wouldn’t be a trip to the coast without ice cream and luckily we’d stumbled across Boho Gelato earlier in the day, so finding a vegan option for me wasn’t a problem. They stock such an impressive range of sorbet flavours from blueberry lemonade to chocolate raspberry and even coconut and vanilla – all of which I would have quite happily devoured, but being the peanut butter addict that I am, I couldn’t resist going for the peanut sea salt caramel flavour and cherry bakewell sounded way to good to miss out on too.
Both were super creamy, not over sickly or sweet and way too good to be classed as sorbet. The peanut flavour contained indulgent swirls of sticky caramel whilst the cherry bakewell was filled with gooey, cherry chunks – it was the perfect seaside ice cream experience.
Before we knew it, it was time to hop back on the bus (one earring less, but that’s another story) and by this point the sunshine had come out so it definitely made the windy journey back a whole lot more bearable! We got off a stop early so that we could have a stroll alongside the beach and take in some more of the sea air, before driving back to Laura’s to quickly change for dinner. No sooner had we got back that we found ourselves in the car again and it was back off to Wimborne, minus the cycle helmets this time, as we had a reservation at The Thirsty Bird for dinner.
Coffee shop by day and cocktail and wine bar by night, their light modern decor makes you feel like you’ve stepped straight in to a London foodie spot. Their evening menu is mainly alcohol based (I am not complaining) with a small selection of deli plates too. I opted for their ‘dark and stormy’ cocktail – east London demerara rum, lime and Double Dutch ginger beer, served with fresh ginger and sliced lime, whilst it was Kombucha for Laura.
We both went for their vegan deli platter which was made up of marinated mediterranean veg, herby rye toasts, hummus, pickled cabbage, sourdough, onion chutney and roasted cashews to share. The chutney was definitely a highlight (there I go again) and the idea of it being served almost tapas style made it feel extra special.
But with no dessert menu, we had to take matters in to our own hands and headed to Waitrose to hunt down some vegan goodies. As if we hadn’t had enough ice cream for one day, we found the latest addition to Alpro’s vegan ice creams – almond salted caramel flavour and knew that we had to try it so we grabbed ourselves a tub along with a pack of biscoff biscuits and we were good to go.
We rushed back just in time for the first episode of the Great British Bake Off, which was made all the more enjoyable by our ice cream sundaes – the alpro ice cream is so smooth and creamy and contains the richest gooey caramel swirls and crunchy almond chunks and it made the perfect match for the crumbled lotus biscuits. And if that wasn’t enough for one day, we managed to squeeze in homemade pina coladas before heading to bed too.
Wednesday: 29/08 ~ Surprises, Pizza and Goodbyes
It was the earliest start of the week for us as we had to be up and out of the house at 7.30am! Being the typical girls that we are, we spent way too long getting ready and didn’t leave ourselves much time for breakfast but somehow managed to find the time to make chai spiced date porridge topped with our homemade fruit and nut granola, frozen cherries, mango, Biona’s salted caramel coconut bliss, Oh So orange chocolate chunks, creamy peanut butter and I managed to half gulp down a popcorn chai latte too!
Laura’s mum dropped us off in Poole and after such an early and rushed morning, a caffeine hit was definitely on the to do list and so Laura took me to one of her favourite dog friendly coffee spots, Coffee Saloon. They have a few locations throughout the South West, with their Poole cafe being located in a converted mill and as the name suggests, the decor is saloon style making it such a unique spot. The rustic decor, beautiful chalkboard menu and friendly staff all make for an extra special coffee experience.
I had the creamiest soy milk cappuccino whilst Laura went for a vanilla iced latte and the double coffee shot which is standard for all of their drinks was definitely needed. Feeling a little more awake than when we sat down, we headed on a lovely walk around Poole Quay before hopping on the bus to Bournemouth.
We had a browse around the shops and a trip in to Lush was definitely needed – I picked up the ‘Let The Good Times Roll‘ fresh face cleanser which smells just like popcorn and whilst I don’t think that you should base your skin care choices solely on the smell, this one is pretty incredible. The sweet scent is provided by the blend of cinnamon, corn oil and polenta and I can confirm that it’s so lovely to use too – gently exfoliating, hydrating and removes every last trace of make up. I also picked up their new ‘Sleepy’ shower bomb which the girl kindly gave us a demo of in store and again the smell alone was enough to lure me in to buying it!
We had planned on heading to Mad Cucumber for lunch and after hearing so many good things about it (Laura couldn’t be anymore enthusiastic about their chocolate slop smoothie) I was so excited to finally try it for myself but halfway in to shopping and Laura (or should I say James) had the sudden realisation that it’s closed on a Wednesday so we quickly changed plans and settled on The Stable, a sourdough pizza restaurant instead. They have such a wide range of options on their menu, catering for gluten, dairy free and veggie with a separate vegan menu too. We ordered ourselves kombucha and sourdough stix with butternut blitz, beetroot hummus and an olive and mushroom tapenade to start. I quickly popped up to the toilet before digging in and to my surprise when I came back, Healthy Living James was sat at the table! Admittedly from behind I did question why a member of staff had set down at the table with her and then I got so confused, thinking that he’d randomly been walking past and popped in but turns out that they’d secretly been planning to surprise me for ages! I’ve followed James for over a year now; the journey that he’s been on with his own health and diet is so inspiring and his recipes remain some of my favourites, especially the Superfood Bread, Peanut Butter + Miso Roasted Aubergine and Peanut Butter + Chickpea Curry – all of which require minimal ingredients and effort and are so simple and easy to make. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from him so finally getting the opportunity to meet and have a good chat was so lovely! The whole thing was honestly the biggest surprise and I’m still not sure how Laura managed to keep it a secret either.
We spoke about all things food, blogging and life and there was some pretty good pizza involved too; we all went for the ‘Hazelnutter’ – a crispy sourdough base (James opted for the gluten-free option), topped with the most flavoursome creamy vegan cheese, spinach, field mushrooms, caramelised onion, green beans and hazelnuts. It’s so great to meet more like-minded people from this community and see them doing so well. I came away with some really great advice and I felt so happy and content and so grateful to Laura for arranging it! We paid up and parted ways as it was time for me to head home.
It was time for me and Laura to say our goodbyes as she dropped me off at the train station. I was actually close to tears because despite only staying for a short time, I had the best stay and I definitely didn’t want to leave. I know that there are so many more places that she wants to take me to though so I’ll definitely be back! I do however seem to be absolutely cursed when it comes to train journeys and my train home was delayed by over an hour, but I managed to kill some time before finally getting in my seat, settling down with my book and opening up the card that Laura gave me as we parted – which did cause me to shed a tear or two on the train. Almost 6 hours later and I finally made it home, feeling full of gratitude (and lots of good food).
All in all I had the loveliest trip; it was so lovely to have some friend time, get away from Cheshire, see the beach and it felt so freeing. Mentally, I’ve not been doing great lately and a mini break away was just what I needed. Whilst I have come a long way from the place that I was in, I still struggle a lot with routine and food rules but this trip showed me what it’s like to eat normally. Being around someone who eats ‘normally’, meant completely disregarding any food rules and rituals and definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Yes there were times when I felt anxious or guilty but it’s done me the world of good. I broke so many habits that I wouldn’t have alone and I probably ate more there in a day than I have in ages! I would love to say that I came away completely guilt free but I still have to rationalise with myself sometimes – changing my diet for a few days won’t make me gain tons of weight and even if it does, who cares?! That’s nothing in exchange for the memories that I created. Recovery looks different for everybody and for me, one of the main aspects that I’ve struggled with has been the social side. I don’t have many people close at home which definitely isn’t a benefit to my overall mood and I constantly find myself torn between wanting to do more things and being worried about my weight and body image. I might not have a big group of friends but what it has taught me is that the quality of friendships is so much more important than quantity.
I think we’re all guilty of being a little hard on ourselves though and looking at it from the other side, this trip puts in to perspective just how far I’ve come in the past few years – this time last year or even back to the start of this year and there’s no way that I thought I would be doing any of those things! Two and a half years in to recovery and there are still things that I need to overcome, but this trip challenged so many of them. It’s also provided me with so much foodie inspo – including an obsession with chutney, chai lattes and cherries and I left feeling so refreshed and excited about the future. I’m so lucky to have a friend whose so supportive and understanding as Laura is and I left wishing that I had longer to stay! I purposely didn’t book to stay for longer in the first place because I wasn’t sure how I would cope being away from home but I’ve proved to myself that I can do it. There are so many places that Laura still needs to take me to though so I know that I will definitely be back. I’m so grateful to her letting me stay and I can’t wait for our next adventure.
Where did you head on your summer break? Let me know in the comments and check out my Instagram for more pics @nourishingyas x